Album Reviews: Isaiah Rashad, Ty Dolla Sign, Step Brothers

Southern Reality Rap

Isaiah Rashad, Cilvia Demo (Top Dawg Entertainment)

isaiah_rashad_cilvia_demoTop Dawg Entertainment has been on a roll with Kendrick Lamar spearheading its movement. In 2014, the first artist to bat for the label is Tennessee MC Isaiah Rashad. As the label’s newest signee, Rashad’s Southern experience is a welcome departure from the label’s California roots. Rashad’s country sensibilities are prevalent throughout—Cilvia Demo plays out like a personal journal through the Chattanooga ghettos spilling out in musical form. From the dreamy “West Savannah” to the menacing wordplay of “Soliloquy,” Rashad earns his membership in the industry’s premier rap family. ★★★★✩

Crass R&B

Ty Dolla Sign, Beach House EP (Taylor Gang)

ty_dolla_sign_beach_houseThe industry is filled with singers who substitute loving words with something found on a 2 Live Crew album. Ty Dolla Sign is one of them. But this increasingly tired formula works to a degree on his Beach House EP. As part of Wiz Khalifa’s Taylor Gang outfit, Dolla Sign has adopted the good-life mantra that Wiz preaches. It’s the usual money, clubs and women saga, but it manages to sound refreshing on songs such as the Twista-featured “Work.” The fun wears thin on crass offerings “Or Nah” and the nonsensical “Paranoid.” But when Ty Dolla Sign finds his rhythm—as he does on the album’s closer “Never Be The Same”—you realize there is talent underneath all those curse words. ★★★✩✩

Obscure-Reference Rap

Step Brothers, Lord Steppington (Rhymesayers)

step_brother_lord_steppingtonAlchemist and Evidence have been collaborating for so long that the moniker “Step Brothers” seems appropriate. The MC/producer combination’s offbeat project Lord Steppington is a dot-connecting journey through obscure references. The combination of Evidence’s monotone delivery over Alchemist’s bed of boom bap drums and quirky samples is solid. “More Wins” and “Dr. Kimble” are stuffed with nimble non sequiturs that are just as enjoyable as they are head scratching. Problems arise when some stellar guests—including Action Bronson’s animated delivery on “Mums in the Garage”—overshadow Evidence. Nevertheless, Lord Steppington is a quality album for longtime fans to enjoy.★★★✩✩

Disc Scan

Upcoming albums on Andreas’ radar…

MARCH 4: A$AP Rocky and the A$AP Mob family will unleash their album L.O.R.D. to the masses. Meanwhile, Rick Ross will continue his onslaught on the music industry with Mastermind.

MARCH 18: Gangster rapper Freddie Gibbs links up with abstract hip-hop producer Madlib for Pinata, and we have no idea exactly what to expect.